One of the things I enjoy is to read excerpts from various devotional materials as part of my daily preparation. Presently, I am using Devotional Classics: Revised Edition: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. This morning’s was taken from the writings of E. Stanley Jones. Jones worked in the early 20th century among high-caste Indians and Muslims in India. His practical insights into living a ‘converted’ life were pretty profound. He, I think properly, linked lifestyle and virtue to evidence of one’s conversion. For him it was not simply a matter of propositional truth, but one of lived reality. The gospel message was not something that someone could understand intellectually, but absolutely needed to be lived and experienced in practice.
With that being said, one thing that jumped out at me today was his clear understanding of our unity as humans in the world. In a time when prejudice and race/class separation were the norm, Jones’ voice was prophetic. He wrote, “A little girl was kneeling on her father’s lap and was telling him how much she loved him, but she was looking over her father’s shoulder and making faces at her little brother. The mother saw it and said: ‘You little hypocrite, you telling your father you love him and then making faces and sticking out your tongue at your little brother.’ Christians who hold race prejudices do just that. They tell God the Father they love him and then look over his shoulder and tell his other children they despise them. How can we love God whom we have not seen unless we love his children whom we do see?” (Pp. 284-285).
Today, those of us in the predominant culture in the West tend to think that such things as racial prejudice and separation have been dealt with and we must move on. We are, of course, seriously deluded if we think this. Race, class, and gender prejudices are a reality and a curse now, in our time. The evidence is overwhelming when we consider the current political competition in the U.S. We are being asked to continue to accept white patriarchy in the person of Mitt Romney. We become activists for a ‘godly’ agenda that negates the actual presence and activity of God. Henri Nouwen wrote in Turn My Mourning into Dancing, “Activism comes from an unbelief that insists that God does not or cannot move and act; it wants to replace God’s supposed slowness or inaction with our activity.” How many Christians with good intentions have become activists against the LGBT community? Against President Obama? Against Muslims? I think that Nouwen was correct.
We, as Christ followers, are called to something else. We are called to a relationship with Yahweh that includes Yahweh’s good creation and the humanity that inhabits it. We are called love God and the God’s children who we can see.